Red Bull Ride + Style 2014 saw fierce competition from top track and fixed freestyle athletes from all over the world, who used the event to showcase emerging fixed gear riding trends and introduce new tricks to the sport. More than 50 returning favorites, local riders and new faces hit the course at Justin Herman Plaza that debuted a new, more cohesive artistic format with designs by world-renowned street artist, Above, on the ramps and features. Again connecting riding and artistic cultures, the fixed gear and art communities merged for another successful event witnessed by a crowd of more than 5,000 spectators.
Zawada’s focus on the track race panned out
The Red Bull Ride + Style track race saw familiar faces from years past, including last year’s winner, Jason Clary, and 2012 race winner, Addison Zawada, who emerged triumphant, taking the win. Zawada edged out Matt Reyes for the win in the final race, but Reyes proved to be the day’s most successful rider by winning the freestyle event. Hernan Montenegro took third, having won his final match up with local Bay Area rider, Kenny Arimoto, who made a costly error to keep him from making the podium.
“The race was textbook for me, I rode smart and thought through the race,” said Zawada. “This year I wanted to focus more on the race; it’s what I’m better at since my background is in BMX. It’s always a stacked field at Red Bull Ride + Style, going up against the best of the best. This is the largest fixed gear event in the world, and winning here means a lot to me.”
This year’s race provided a chance for ten last-minute wild card entries that were claimed through one-lap time trials on the race course as an initial qualifying round. The field showcased a variety of riding styles, with some racers in spandex racing kits on lighter track bikes, and on the opposite spectrum, fixed gear freestyle competitors riding burlier 26” wheel freestyle bike setups. The mash-up of gear and riding styles is totally unique to Red Bull Ride + Style, as the event offers the only race and freestyle mixed competition that also showcases the growing versatility of these athletes.
Reyes claims repeat fixed freestyle win
Following his second place result in the race, Matt Reyes kept the energy high and the tricks flowing through multiple runs. Reyes threw down tricks all over the course, including fan favorite 540s on the wall ride, ultimately winning the freestyle competition for the second consecutive year. Johnathan Ball put in solid runs, landing him second place, while Jakob Santos executed a technically solid run to claim third place.
“This is the second time that I’ve done both events at Ride + Style and I’m stoked to podium in both of them in my own backyard,” noted Reyes. “There’s nothing more exhausting then doing both events. It’s so high octane. The competition increases every year, getting faster, stronger and the tricks get better. I rode the same bike for both the race and freestyle events and when they changed the course, I changed my bike setup to swap pegs out for the right course. It meant I missed warm ups, but I stayed focused and it all worked out.”
Competitors stormed the course after what was hailed as the trick of the day, when 16-year-old Valentin Racho threw a huge “truck driver-to-flat” from the top of a ramp. History was made at Red Bull Ride + Style when Joe McKeag landed a 360 bar spin-catch-bar spin at the tail end of his run, the first time the trick had been seen in competition. Bay Area native and 2012 freestyle winner, Joshua Boothby, was forced out of the competition due to injury but maintained a presence on-site, urging on fellow riders and serving as a judge in the freestyle competition.
Fixed freestyle competition final results:
1. Matt Reyes
2. Johnathan Ball
3. Jakob Santos
4. Elliot Millner
5. Valentin Racho
6. Joe McKeag
7. Dew Sippawit
8. Jimmy Watcha
Art and fixed gear culture converge to riders’ delight
This year’s event showcased a new, more cohesive artistic vision, with Above’s art covering the entire course – ultimately allowing him more opportunities for expression and creativity. Above’s use of striking colors and his trademark bold arrows inspired athletes to ride faster, push progression and added a fresh aspect of color and culture to Justin Herman Plaza.
Competitor Sam Allgood agreed: “Last year it was the course art that brought me to San Francisco. All of the different artists and creations were so varied. This year it blends even better and puts the focus on riding. To me, fixed gear riding is art.”
Photo credit: Garth Milan